Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Needlework Tuesday

Last evening was the monthly meeting with my local quilt guild, the Elmira Needlesisters. Being on the program committee, it was my turn to arrange the speaker. In our ten years as a guild, we haven't looked to the past of quilting and tried hand piecing. I invited Helen Martin of Cambridge, Ontario to show us how its done.

After showing us several examples of hand pieced quilts we were enthused to give it a try ourselves.

We made cardboard templates, and transferred the outlines to the back of our fabrics. Some members even had time to start sewing. The first pic shows the two blocks that Helen made as samples. The next photo shows my fabrics cut out and ready for sewing.

I donated fabric to the guild for the background and asked those who wished to use that fabric to donate their blocks back and we would use them for a community project next year.

I did find time to work on my cousin's quilt this week. I rolled once. yippee. Always a feel good moment. I am now well beyond the boarders and into the body of the quilt. Much of the 'blue' fabric is filled with motifs adapted from the Mariner's compass, but there were some empty spots that I filled in with stars. In my mind sailboats and stars are permanently linked ever since reading the poem "Sea Fever" by John Masefield.

Sea Fever
I must go down to the seas again,
to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship
and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song
and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face
and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again,
for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call
that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day
with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume,
and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again
to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way
where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn
from a laughing fellow rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream
when the long trick's over.
-- John Masefield

Monday, 23 February 2009

Freedom to Read Week

It was recently brought to my attention that it's Freedom to Read Week at your local Canadian library. Thank goodness! I don't need someone else telling me whether a book is suitable for reading. I am highly educated and am able to make that decision myself.

Quite a while back I did a review on "The Higher Power of Lucky". Loved that book. If some people had their way no one would be able to give that book to a young person to read.

Have you ever bought/read a book just because someone else sought to ban it? I would like to have the title and author and perhaps it will interest me.

List of Challenged Books and Magazines

Friday, 20 February 2009

Does listening to an audio book count as having read it?

This is coming from my 15 year old son, not my words.
Mom, Aunt XXXX said that it didn't really count if you listened to an audio book, that you hadn't really read the book!!
Eeks, what is this, am I not allowed to multi task, or does she wish she had thought to listen to audio books while she does her other projects?
Any comments?
note: that's not my photo I found it online somewhere

Thursday, 19 February 2009

March Madness continues

Its time to go back to the HarperCollins website for the second round of voting. Its down to 32 books. A few of my favourite choices have been elminated. That doesn't mean I will be removing them from my wish list.

April Raintree by Beatrice Culleton

I was relieved to find that this is a fictional account of the lives of two Metis sisters growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba. April and her sister Cheryl have been removed from their parents' home and placed with a series of foster families. By chance, April has a lighter complexion and identifies herself with the white population while Cheryl has a darker complexion and identifies herself with the Metis population.

I was captivated by both girls. I would have welcomed either of them into my family.

I don't fault April for choosing to play on her light colouring, after all, her heritage is part white. I don't walk around with a banner exclaiming all parts of my ethnic make up, so I didn't expect her to do the same. I found it mostly positive the way Cheryl embraced the Metis and how she did her research about them and presented her findings in her various school reports. Without having her parents to provide a sense of identity, she went and found it for herself.
Without unveiling a plot development, I was sad with what happened to April when she returned to Winnipeg to help her sister. It seemed too much to play up to stereotypes, but I suppose that it's also a reality. That in the end it had nothing to do with being Indian, but rather with choices that Cheryl made me accept better that it had to happen for the story to progress as it had.
I cried lots of tears as the story turned back to Cheryl. She had so much hope and she seemed at first to do all the right things. I really wanted her to succeed and do good work at the Friendship Centre and for the Metis people.

I am glad to find that this book has 're-written from the original "In Search of April Raintree" for use in high schools', otherwise I would have kept searching for a copy of the other thinking that it was a sequel or prequel to this one. . It is currently the chosen books for the On the Same Page: Manitoba Reads project. The aim of which is to have 12 000 people read this book prior to April 2009. If you live in Winnipeg and have read the book this year, go to this link and register your read. update: October 24, 2009 - voting is over, though the link takes you to the City of Winnipeg Library website.

Thanks to Beatrice Culleton for creating a book that has provided such a good opportunity for reflection.
Thanks to my online friend author Kathleen Molloy for sending me this book as a surprise to help me along with my quest to read 13 books by First Nations Authors as part of the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Needlework Tuesday

I was back at my sewing machine this week. yippee. The first picture shows the 2 log cabin blocks I made. They are from the Quilters Cache website. They measure 12" and are made with a 2 1/2 " red centre and 1 1/2 inch logs.

The next picture shows the 11 blocks that were submitted for the BOM (Block of the Month) program for the Maple Leaf Quilt Guild online.

The diagonal pattern shows up so well with this block. I will hold a random drawing and one of the members who submitted a block will win them all.

As I was browsing online this morning, I checked over at Zoey's site and was thrilled to see that she is working with log cabin blocks as well. Instead of a small red centre, she has put a 6 inch bunny block in the middle. Log Cabin bunny block.

If you have done a log cabin quilt, send me the link and I'll add it here.

Miri's Red White and Black Log Cabin

I didn't get as much work done on my cousin's quilt as I wanted to. I did go to a friend's and work on a quilt that she had just put in the frame. A lovely crazy type block. Sorry I didn't get a pic.

The motif shown here was inspired by the Mariner's compass in the middle of the quilt. This will be repeated 4 times across the middle of the quilt.

I haven't heard back from Morehouse Farm about the scarf I started knitting last week. I'll send them another email in case the first got misplaced. Will give you another update next week.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

The Christmas Quilt & The New Year's Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

This is a two book in a one that came out in November 2008. A friend lent it to me as she knows I always have a couple of books on the go and am a quilter as well.
I have read a few earlier books by Jennifer and enjoyed them. Both of these books have new story lines, though they do recap and expand upon some events in previous books. That's OK for a reader who is new to the series. However, by the time I can up to a plot point for the third time, I was tired of it and felt that I already knew enough details. Give me something new to sink my teeth into.
Still, I did enjoy both books. As the titles tell you, one if set just before Christmas and the other is set a few years later just before New Years. You can read these books without having read the previous ones. My favourite in the series so far has been the very first one, "The Quilter's Apprentice". I have a few more of them sitting in 'Mount To Be Read', so you'll hear more about them if you keep coming back here to visit.
There is a lovely pic of the "Christmas Quilt" on Jennifer's website. It was even nicer than I imagined. I couldn't find a pic of the "New Year's Quilt".

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Wanting by Richard Flanagan

There are several stories in this novel that have been laced together by the common theme of wanting.

Sir John Franklin is long missing on his fateful voyage to the Arctic in search of the Northwest passage. Charles Dickens is at a cross roads in his marriage. The Aboriginal population of Van Diemen's land (Tasmania) are being hunted to extinction and the remnant population has been isolated on Flinder's Island, while Franklin was the Governor.

Lady Jane Franklin wants Charles Dickens to squash the rumors of cannibalism that are being linked with her husband and his ship mates. She also wants a child, a daughter, and adopts an Aboriginal one when she is resident in Van Diemen's Land. The child, Mathinna, wants to contact her ancestors, mostly her father. She wants to live when so many of her people have died. Charles Dickens wants to know what is wrong in his marriage, wants his play "The Frozen Deep" to be a success and he wants Ellen Ternan, a young actress that is performing in the play.

What do I want? I want this book to be about Australia and its original population. In a large way it is. We clearly see the attitude toward the Aboriginal populations in the early and mid 19th century. They are viewed more as animals to be hunted and controlled rather than as a people with thousands of years of a rich history. Lady Jane is unsuccessful in her adoption of Mathinna mainly because she seems to have no idea how to mother a child. If she had hugged Mathinna as her first impulse suggested, the rest might have turned out much differently.

I have read a few books recently about the Indian Residential Schools in Canada and couldn't help but see the similarities. Children removed from their cultures and raised and educated by cold, impersonal strangers. Then they are thrust back into a society where they no longer fit neither as a white person nor as a native person.

At first I didn't understand why Charles Dickens was such a major character in the book. As I kept reading I understood that without his eloquent written support, the reputation of Sir Franklin would have been badly tarnished and that would have destroyed Lady Jane.

This is a wonderfully written book. I could easily imagine the desperation of Mathinna when her adopted life is taken from her. I could also see myself kicking my shoes off and curling my toes into the soil and getting the 'feel' of the land inside me. I would have like to learn more about Lady Jane and her interactions with Mathinna, but perhaps the act of adopting her and parading her to society was as deep as the relationship ever got.

As I was reviewing what I had written and thought about 'wanting' these lyrics by the Rolling Stones came to mind: "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need"

I wonder if Mathinna finally got the contact with her father that she wanted?

An Introduction to Charles Dicken's "The Lost Voyagers"

An account of Sir John Franklin's last voyage

A Site dedicated to the memory of Mathinna

Richard Flanagan's website

Read Jonita's review at "The Book Chick"

Friday, 13 February 2009

My Library

I was visiting my friend Sherrie's blog this morning and she has posted a pic of her library. I thought it was a great idea so I have done the same. I did copy the picture from their website. Its a small building, but they are part of a larger system, so they can borrow books from the 9 other branches. Its about 4km away in the next town.
This leads into my poll of the week. Do you borrow books from your library? Be sure to vote and post a pic of your library on your blog and leave me a comment so I can visit and take a look.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

After watching the movie "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", I realized that I didn't know the stories behind the main characters. Allan Quartermain, Captain Nemo, Mina Harker, the Invisible Man, Dorian Gray, Tom Sawyer and Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde. Thus my quest to search out the books where they were introduced and read them. First on the list that I read was "King Solomon's Mines", Allan Quatermain, by H. Rider Haggard.

According to his friends and acquaintances, Dorian Gray is a lovely man in every way. Upon first seeing him, Basil Hallward becomes determined to paint his portrait. It is while sitting for him, that Dorian first meets and falls under the lure of Lord Henry Wotton. I disliked Henry from the moment he was introduced. He cared only for the luxuries of life. I'm not sure if describing him as a hedonist is correct. During the course of an afternoon he sways Dorian from his 'nice' lifestyle' to one bent on excess. It is during this afternoon that Dorian, while gazing upon his picture states that he wishes he would stay as lovely as his picture is at that moment and that the picture grow old. He even offers his soul in payment.
Once this comes to pass Dorian never accepts that he is at fault. He blames Basil for all the ills of his life. Dorian is the one who makes the choices of what to do each day and how to live with this salvation/curse. In my opinion he makes one bad choice after another. He should only blame himself. Even when he realizes that he can not continue this way and that he could redeem himself, he still blames Basil.
Contrary to my belief, Dorian continues to look at the painting through out his life. He becomes obsessed with it. Mistakenly, he believes that if he destroys his painting then he will have his life back as it would have been.
There is a lot more to the story that describes the many depravities of Dorian's life and the philosophies that Lord Henry continually uses to re-enforce chosen lifestyle. I liked the summary article for this book on the Wikipedia site.
I listened to this audio book while quilting, but at times wished I had the book in hand so I could re-read a few passages. I do have a copy of the book and will be passing it along to another reader.

March Madness

Its that time again to head over to the HarperCollins Canada website and vote for your favourite fiction book. There are 64 books in the running and half will be eliminated each week. In 6 weeks we'll know which is the winner.
Don't worry if you haven't read them all, click on the link for each book and find out what its about, if it sounds good to you, then vote for it. You also get the chance to win all 64 books.
Click here for HCC March Madness.
Thanks to HarperCollins for the logo.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The Graveyard by Neil Gaiman

I have changed the "Browse Inside" featured novel. In celebration of the recent opening of "Coraline" in theatres, I have changed to the full text of Neil Gaiman's latest book. I haven't read it yet, though I did listen to part of an interview with him yesterday on Sirius radio channel 117.
You might have to join at HarperCollins to have access to the full text. Read quickly as this will be posted for a limited time.
Thanks to HarperCollins for the photo.

Needlework Tuesday

Last Thursday I started a new knitting project. I am using Koigu Fingering weight Merino wool. It's really a bit more orange than the picture shows.
My pattern is from the book "Merino Knits" by Morehouse Farms. On page 50 is a pattern for a lovely spiral ruffle scarf. I only have one more row to knit and then cast off, but I can't imagine how this is going to turn into what is shown in the book. My cast on row measures 20 inches when stretched, yet the pattern says the scarf will measure 54 inches.

I have gone the Morehouse website and sent them a comment asking for help. Its only been 3 business days, so hopefully they will check the pattern and let me know what I have done wrong. I have used less than 1/2 the amount of wool, I am wondering if I knit 2 sections and seam them together at the centre back. If this won't work for me there is another pattern on page 84 for a diagonally knitted scarf that would be wonderful.

This week I have moved on to quilting the blocks that are bordered with the alternating triangles. These will be fun. The outer row of triangles on each block is the same, but the centres are all different.

Rather than try and mark around each triangle, I am using 1/4 inch quilters tape to mark where I want to stitch. In the 4Th pictures you can see the dark green tape in place. The final picture shows after I have removed the tape. I still need to stitch in the ditch just inside the blue triangles. They are too puffy at this point.
I have had a few visitors this week and they have all enjoyed seeing my quilt spread out for the first time. One has even offered to come back and spend some time with a needle.
If you happen to be in Conestogo in the next while, bring your thimble.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

I listened to this book while I was quilting last week. At times my hands stilled while a critical development was revealed and when the moment of excitement passed, I would again begin to stitch.
The story slowly reveals the various people who were involved in the creation and preservation of the Sarajevo Haggadah since it's writing in Spain in 1492. It was almost like reading a book of short stories with Hannah Heath, the book conservator, acting as the narrator to link them all together. As Hannah worked with the book, she found various clues: an insect wing, wine stain, hair and salt, that served as launching points for these important side stories. Clues to Hannah's life were also revealed through out the story.
I enjoyed the way the different cultural and religious groups lived and worked together. Life was not easy at many of the times portrayed in the book, but when the Muslims, Jewish and Christians worked together, life was definitely richer.
There is a little bit of everything in the book, something to appeal to all readers. History, be sure to read the interview of Geraldine with James Mustich, Editor and Chief of the Barnes & Noble Review, romance between Hannah and the museum Director in Sarajevo, the adventure during... oops, can't go there and start revealing too much of the story.
"The People of the Book" would make a good Book Club read. There is a reading guide and location map at the author's website.
The picture featured here is from the author's website. Thank-you.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Do you listen to Audio Books?

I am curious about whether my readers listen to Audio Books?

I remember listening to some ages ago when they only came on tapes and were quite expensive. Lately I have found channel 117 on Sirius Radio. Its mostly Audio Books and some interviews. There are complete episodes of Twilight Zone, Sherlock Holmes and Harry Niles (detective). The longer books/stories are done in an installment style. Makes those longer road trips more enjoyable and fills my reading needs.

At home I have been downloading books from my library system. I have just finished listening to "People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks (yet to write my review) and am now listening to "What I talk about when I talk about Running: A Memoir" by Haruki Murakami . It certainly helps my solitary quilting time seem to fly by.

I look forward to hearing about your involvement in Audio Books. Do you love them, hate them, perhaps you are indifferent? There is a poll on the left of this page, or you can add something in the comment section.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Needlework Tuesday

Two weeks ago while chatting with a friend, we were lamenting out unfinished projects. We agreed to finish a project each by the end of January. The scarf shown to the left was started ages ago but I didn't enjoy knitting with ribbon so it sat and sat. It used 2 balls of Lion Brand Yarn 'Incredible' a nylon ribbon yarn. It was knit on 9mm needles. While knitting I had to be real careful to wrap the yarn around the needle without twisting it. A real pain. I won't be knitting with ribbon again for a long, long time.
The second pic shows the blocks that were submitted for a Block of the Month program that I run with a Canadian online Quilt Guild. The theme this month of was white and yellow. The winner will be chosen by lottery and the blocks mailed off to her later this week.

There were 4 votes on the poll and a few comments and personal emails. All were in favour of continued updates on the quilt progress.
Most of the last week was spent quilting the outside boarder that is shown on the extreme right of the picture. Once that was done I was able to roll the quilt (the quilt is mounted on a 1x2 wood frame, once a strip wider than 3 inches is quilted, the corner clamps can be released and the quilt is literally rolled around the wood) and start working into the body. Almost finished the star in the lower portion as well as the twisted rope motif that runs inside the boarder. I was playing around with the lighting so you could better see where I have actually quilted.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Furious Obersvations of a Blue-Eyed Ojibway: Funny, You Don't Look Like One Two Three by Drew Hayden Taylor

This was an interesting read. I knew nothing about the book or the author when I found it at the library.
Mr. Hayden Taylor is a prolific writer of books, plays, articles/columns and scripts. This book is a collection of articles from a variety of publications including: Windspeaker, Now Magazine, CBC Radio, the Toronto Star etc.
This book was at many points funny, emotional and even personal. By personal, I mean that Mr. Hayden Taylor hit upon topics with deep meaning to me.
One of my favourites started "I often receive gifts from my non-Native friends that run the gambit of every possible Native influenced present that could be bought in a store." This got me wondering whether I chose gifts for my friends by first considering their cultural heritage? yep, seems to be the case.
I'm not going to go through each article step by step and tell what what a compelling writer Drew is, you can chose one of his 20 or so books and find out for yourself.
So, what am I taking away from reading this book? That there is no one definition of a "Native Person". There are hundreds of cultural groups that make up this huge population called "Canadian First Nations People". They are as similar as the many other groups that make up this country and as different as even neighbours and siblings can be. I have also learned that while my great grandparents came to Canada as immigrants with their own distinct cultures, I am a Canadian. If I went to 'the mother country' , I wouldn't fit in there, I have never lived there, nor did my parents nor grandparents. I was born here, educated here ... who I am is what I have lived and experienced here. Interesting that reading a book by someone from a different background would play such a role in helping me realize this. Thanks.

Forever Odd by Dean Koontz

2ND book in the 4 part series.

We meet again the intriguing character of 21 year old fry cook Odd Thomas. Unlike the first book, which takes place over many days or weeks, this one wraps up in a very dramatic 24 hours.

Odd is awaken from sleep by a dead radiologist whose son Danny happens to be one of Odd's best friends.

While I love the character Odd, and the fact that tears poured down my face every time I read about his deceased soul mate Stormy, I kinda felt cheated by this book. I learned very little more about Odd's past and his weird relationship with his mom or the mysterious Aunt that was mentioned in the first book. it was all immediate action.

I did like the course that Odd had chosen to pursue at the very end of the book. I can only hope that will lead to some of the further revelations that I was hoping for in this book. Yes, I do intend to keep reading this series and have "Brother Odd" somewhere in my pile of 'to be read' books.

Click here for the link to my review of Odd Thomas.
Read my review of the third book Brother Odd
My review of Odd Hours

Sunday, 1 February 2009

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

I started reading this book online at the HarperCollins website.
They have a new feature called "Browse Inside" where you can read the opening chapters of many of their books. Generally they will have the full text of up to two books available each month. You might have to become a member to enable viewing of the full text.
I have been interested in virtual books for a few years, but have been sceptical of how the screen would look, would the print be large enough and a clear fonnt, could you add bookmarks etc.
Since I was reading on my desktop the screen was amply large and the text was wonderfully big and clear. I preferred to scroll down the page rather than selecting 'next'. The next page took longer to load, but when scrolling it starts to load when you are still reading the current page. Will have to check on the bookmarks.
Reading this 400+ page book at my desk would not be comfy so I bought a copy of the book the other day. Though, if I had a laptop, I would have moved to the sofa and kept going.
Click the "Browse Inside" link to the left to give it a try. "The Luxe" will be posted until February 10.